Kashmir papier mache is a handicraft of Kashmir (a region of the far north Indian subcontinent), brought by Muslims from Persia in the 15th century. Richly decorated objects such as bowls, cups, boxes, and lamp bases are typical of the craft.
The technique of using papier mache for making decorative objects began in Kashmir in the 15th century, introduced by King Zain-ul-Abidin and craftsmen who were skilled in the art, along with others such as woodcarving, carpet weaving, and copper engraving. This evolved the earlier practice of drawing colourful paintings on wood or household furniture. This form was called Kar-i-qulamdan.
The artisans involved in the process of Kashmiri papier mache are called Sakhta makers. These artisans use discarded paper, cloth, copper sulphate, straw from rice plants, and mix them together to make a pulp after being kept in water for up to 5 weeks, and then dried. The pulp is then applied to molds, originally made of clay by the craftsmen themselves. Then, through a set of stages involving repeated polishing, treating, varnishing, and the adding of foils, the object is ready to paint.
However the craftsmanship involved in the incredibly detailed painting is declining in Kashmir, despite a significant international market, with the government of Kashmir introducing papier mache as a curriculum subject in schools to help encourage the form to proliferate.
At Samax, we have several different designs of these incredibly detailed, stunning Kashmiri lamp bases, both large, and smaller sized